The Society of London Theatre

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The Society of London Theatre (previously The Society of West End Theatre) is an umbrella organisation for West End theatre in London. Founded in 1908, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), is the not-for-profit organisation which provides a collective voice for the theatre owners, producers and managers of all the major commercial and grant-aided theatres across London. As well as protecting the interests of all its member theatres, SOLT promotes theatregoing through activities including the Laurence Olivier Awards, the TKTS ticket booth, the Official London Theatre website and its printed fortnightly listings guide, Theatre Tokens and the popular annual celebration West End LIVE. It also administers the audience development initiatives Kids Week and Get Into London Theatre, and supports a number of theatrical charities including Stage One and Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

TKTS, Half-Price Theatre Ticket Booth[edit]

Society of London Theatre operates the TKTS booth in London. This discounted theatre ticket shop offer customers half price and discounted theatre tickets across a wide range of West End shows on the day of the performance and up to a week in advance. The TKTS booth now also sell tickets at full price for some shows, effectively giving all West End box offices a prime location in the heart of theatreland.The TKTS booth in Leicester Square is the original 'Half Price Ticket Booth' and remains highly popular with both tourists and UK residents alike. Tickets can only be purchased in person (i.e. no telephone or web sales). The TKTS booth also sells Theatre Tokens, which are national theatre gift vouchers and are accepted at over 240 theatres across the UK including all major London theatres.

The TKTS ticket booth is the only truly official discounted theatre ticket booth in London, and is committed to honest, high-quality customer service whilst bringing genuine bargains to customers. It is operated by the Society on behalf of the theatre industry, and any profits from its operation is spent in promoting theatre and developing new audiences. There is a service charge of £3.00 per ticket.[1] Tkts Leicester Square is located in the clocktower building at the centre of the Square. It is open Monday to Saturday: 10:00-19:00 and Sundays: 11:00-16:00.[2]

Official London Theatre website and Official London Theatre Guide[edit]

Official London Theatre (OLT) is the premier website for London theatre. An incredible resource for all the latest West End news, it also boasts a wealth of features and interviews alongside comprehensive listings that include trailers, cast lists, production shots and more. OLT offers secure online ticketing for all major West End shows and, ticket offers, hotel and meal packages, information about assisted performances and tips to improve your theatregoing experience.

Alongside the website, a printed Official London Theatre Guide is produced fortnightly with show listings and theatre news. The free guide has a distribution of 145,000 and is available to pick up in London theatres and at major tourist outlets across the UK. An Access London Theatre brochure, listing London's range of assisted performances, is also produced three times a year.

The Olivier Awards[edit]

Main article: Olivier Awards

The Olivier Awards (or simply the Olivier's) are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognise excellence in professional theatre. Originally known as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, they were renamed in honour of the British actor Laurence Olivier in 1984.

Awards are presented annually across a range of categories covering plays, musicals, dance, opera and affiliate theatre.The Olivier Awards are recognised internationally as the highest honour in British theatre, equivalent to Broadway's Tony Awards and France's Molière Award. Award winners receive a bronze statuette of Sir Lawrence Olivier playing Henry V in 1937. The awards have taken place at various hotels and theatres across London, and since 2012 have been held at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

The first awards ceremony took place in December 1976 at the Café Royal. The winners - who included Alan Howard, Peggy Ashcroft, Penelope Keith and Jonathan Miller - did not receive the iconic bronze statuette; the prize was a specially commissioned blue Wedgwood urn, causing the event to be nicknamed "The Urnies".

Award winners have included the leading names in British theatrical talent, including John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Alec Guinness, Peggy Ashcroft, Harold Pinter, Peter Hall, Ian McKellan, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Alan Bennett, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alan Ayckbourn, Maggie Smith, Gillian Lynne, Michael Frayn, Nicholas Hytner and Kevin Spacey.

Kids Week[edit]

Kids Week is an annual initiative run by SOLT to encourage young people to experience London theatre. Taking place each August, the initiative offers children under 16 the opportunity to see a West End show for free when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Up to two extra children's tickets may also be purchased at half price and there are no booking or postage fees. A variety of free theatre workshops and activities are also available for participants. The scheme has been highly successful since its conception in 1998, growing from a single week to the entirety of August. In 2012, Kids Week won 'Best Cultural Attraction' at the London Lifestyle Awards.

Get Into London Theatre[edit]

Get Into London Theatre is a discount ticket scheme run by SOLT that takes place annually from January to mid-February. The scheme, initially launched in 2001, offers the public to see over 50 of the capital's most popular shows (including plays, musicals, opera and dance) at the highly reduced prices of £10, £20, £30 and £40. There are no booking or postal fees.

Stage One[edit]

Stage One is a charity supported by SOLT that seeks to aid the commercial theatre producers of the future. SOLT offers practical advice and financial support to those hoping to become creative entrepreneurs. Stage One runs a structured training programme to develop and support new producers which includes workshops, bursaries, start-up funds, internships and investment.

Recipients of Stage One funding have gone on to produce successful productions such as Birdsong (2010), A Doll's House (2013), The Pajama Game (2014) and Avenue Q Tour (2014).

Laurence Olivier Bursary[edit]

The Laurence Olivier Bursary was established by the Society in 1987, in honour of the actor's 80th birthday, to support talented students starting their final year of drama school. Such students often face financial difficulties because intense contact hours mean there is little time for students to do paid work. The Society invites about 20 drama schools to each nominate two exceptionally talented students for financial support. About 40 students are entered each June and appear before a panel of theatre industry professionals – usually producers and casting directors – where they give a ten-minute audition (which can include a song) and an interview. SOLT gives several bursaries worth £7,500 each as well as smaller sums (of £1000 plus) at the discretion of the judges. Other organisations contribute their own bursaries in conjunction with the Society’s scheme.[3]

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